“I’m a big fan of the misunderstood, the vilified, the underdog, the breaking of myths.”- Dominic Monaghan, actor.
Continuing into our journey of breaking the myth of Busan being the land of gangsters and the uncultured, my journey into the southern city was more than surprising, it was enlightening. Shall we?
The shoreline of Busan is dramatic as any movies set in Busan , but they are not as dark as those movies. The beaches here are actually a thing for the passionate romantics here, you know, strolling down the beach and have a romantic meal after. Not at all that dark and dramatic.
It’s quite romantic, when it’s this quiet, in our little pretty heads. Unfortunately, besides the local, the other out-of-towners have the same idea.Therefore, it’s usually more like:
Well, to avoid peak traffic at the beach, just make sure to avoid the peak summer period or long weekends or the famous Firework Festival. It’s not all bad, unless you’re really claustrophobic, you and your other half would just have a grand old time hugging each other, enjoying the views.
Told you, it’s not all dark and dramatic. It’s more like dark and passionate?
The passion of the south extends to community projects. To raise a neighbourhood from poverty, the local community and government in Gamcheon-dong launched a massive art project to beautify the hilly Gamcheon area into a mural village, here in western Busan. The result: it is one of the most popular attraction in the region since the launch in 2009.
The artwork were completely done by the locals, recreating a space where locals and tourists get to enjoy the beauty and the culture of the hill.
If you’re hungry, stop by any street stalls along the village serving Busan-style hotteok with seeds (sshiat hotteok). It is sugary goodness. You will need it, because the walk up and down the hill is actually very tiring.
However, the ugly side of passion is inevitable. Passion for your country, fighting for what’s right has torn the Korean peninsula into two, separated by the DMZ. The UN Memorial Park in southern Busan, a burial ground for the United Nation Command (UNC) casualties of that horrible war, commemorates the sacrifices and blood shed for this land.
Land of gangster Busan is not, but it is a land that held memories of how close UNC was at the brink of defeat at the Battle of Pusan Perimeter.
Damn, that was me being a Debbie downer. It’s just wrong to ignore a part of history like The Korean War when you’re travelling here. Okay, we need to wash this off with some spa time, shouldn’t we? Well, let’s go!
Busan is definitely a land of the cultured, where spas are aplenty for you to relax and pamper yourself. First option for you, head back to Haeundae, to Spaland in Centum City, the biggest shopping complexes in the world. For first time traveller to Korean style public baths, I would recommend Spaland: it’s entirely accessible with English speaking staff with first class facility. It’s divine.
Second option is Hurshimchung Spa, the largest hot spring fed spa in Asia in Dongnae, northern Busan. It is the gaudier older sister of
Spaland with required certain Korean skills to get by. But it shouldn’t stop you from exploring the hot spring area in northern Busan. It’s just as relaxing.
Note: Korean public baths require you to be naked. A warning to those of you who are not comfortable being naked, or gawked at or commented by very “honest” locals.
Here goes Busan. It’s definitely NOT a smelly fishing village countryside some Seoulites assume, nor that it’s a land of the gangster of the uncultured some movies portrayed. It is a cultured city of passionate romance and history.
Busan Firework Festival will be held on the weekend of 21-22 October 2016 at Gwangalli Beach.
To get to:
Line 2 to Gwangan Station, Exit 3 or 5. Keep going straight towards the beach.
Line 2 to Haeundae Station, Exit 5. Keep going straight towards the beach.
Gamcheon Cultural Village:
Line 1 to Goejeong Station, Exit 6. Keep going straight to go to the nearest bus stop. Take the local bus 1 or 1-1 to Sakha.
UN Memorial Park:
Line 2 to Daeyeon Station, Exit 3 or 5. It’s a 15-20 min walk from the station.
Line 2 to Centum City Station. It’s linked with Shinsegae Departmental Store.
Tickets for Adults are 15,000 Won on weekdays/18,000 Won on weekends.
Line 1 to Oncheonjang Station, Exit 3. It is located behind Home Plus.
Behind the building, turn right onto Oncheonjang-ro 119beon-gil, and keep going straight. It will be on your left.
Tickets for Adults are 8,000 Won on weekdays/10,000 Won on weekends.
Misshoggy stayed in Hotel Yaja (near Lotte Departmental Store) in Seomyeon. ~AUD120 a night.